Ignorant of actual content, anti-communist vigilantes seize books critical of Marx

Detik News – August 5, 2019
BMI members hold pictures of Marx and Lenin at Gramedia bookstore – August 3, 2019 (Tagar)
BMI members hold pictures of Marx and Lenin at Gramedia bookstore – August 3, 2019 (Tagar)

Muhammad Taufiqqurahman, Makassar – A group calling itself the Indonesian Muslim Brigade (BMI) has seized books they say smack of communism from a Gramedia bookstore in the South Sulawesi capital of Makassar, including books by Franz Magnis-Suseno. The group said that the books by Magnis-Suseno are spreading the ideas of Karl Marx after reading the synopsis on the book covers.

“We couldn’t open the books because they were sealed [with a plastic cover], but the synopsis does indeed indicate a desire to explain the ideas of Karl Marx, so we believe and suspect there are such indications”, said BMI Chairperson Muhammad Zulkifli when speaking with Detik.com on Monday August 5.

Zulkifli said information about the books spreading communist ideas came from a local person. He said that the group had already coordinated with the intelligence (intel) section of the Makassar metropolitan police (Polrestabes) and intelligence agents from the Hasanuddin regional military command (Kodam).

“Me along with Kodam intelligence stepped in, right. So we acted in coordination [with law enforcement officials] so as not to break the law. We were coordinating with the police, the TNI [Indonesian military], and aside from this they directed us, [we] always prefer persuasive actions”, said Zulkifli.

In a video obtained by Detik.com on Sunday August 4, four youths can be seen conducting a raid and holding a pile of books one of which has a picture of Karl Marx’s face on the cover.

One of the youths standing on the left and claiming to be the spokesperson for the group said that they have asked Gramedia to return the books to the publisher because they are banned.

“[We’re] currently conducting a search for books with radical ideas which are actually banned by law”, said the man in the video.

One of the books taken by the group in the raid was by author Franz Magnis-Suseno.

“If I’m not mistaken one of the books that they seized was a book by Franz Magnis”, Gramedia’s General Manager for Corporate Communications, Saiful Bahri told Detik.com on Monday. “If I’m not mistaken it’s a scholarly work”, he added.

Marxist critic

One of the books seized during the raid on Saturday written by Magnis-Suseno was titled Karl Marx’s Thoughts: From Utopian Socialism to the Dispute of Revisionism (Pemikiran Karl Marx: Dari Sosialisme Utopis ke Perselisihan Revisionisme).

In the forward to the book written by the writer known affectionately as Romo Magnis, he explains the reasons why Karl Marx should be introduced to the Indonesian public. According to Magnis-Suseno the ideas often cited as being Marxist are influenced by the thinking of the 19th century and therefore it is inappropriate to apply Marxism in this era because it rejects democracy and pluralism.

“Marxism is no more than an ideology of the struggle of industrial workers in the late 19th century, and now he attracts little interest compared with the ideas of Michail Bakunin and Robert Owen”, writes Magnis-Suseno.

Magnis-Suseno even likens Marxism to a fossil or museum exhibit. Nevertheless he disagrees that teaching Marxism is the same as spreading his ideas and believes that Marxism should still be taught from a critical and scientific perspective.

In the book he also agrees with the dissolution and banning of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI), even explaining that many communist countries have failed economically because Marxist concepts are outdated like a fossil from the Jurassic era.

[Abridged translation by James Balowski based on two articles by Detik.com. The original title of the first article was “Cuma Baca Sinopsis, BMI Simpulkan Buku Franz Magnis Berbau Marxisme” and the second was titled “Dirazia BMI, Buku Buku Franz Magnis Suseno Justru Kritik Marxisme” (https://news.detik.com/berita/d-4652383/dirazia-bmi-buku-buku-franz-magnis-suseno-justru-kritik-marxisme).]

Source: https://news.detik.com/berita/d-4652544/cuma-baca-sinopsis-bmi-simpulkan-buku-franz-magnis-berbau-marxisme